Thanks for your interest in a hands-on weather workshop for middle grades students. For many years I have served as the official Rockland County, New York meteorologist, on Radio Rockland WRCR. Teaching certifications include Earth science grades 5-12, reading grades K-12, and elementary grades K-6. I have conducted over 220 very successful, hands-on weather workshops for elementary and middle school students in Connecticut, New York State and Massachusetts.
These unique workshops have been presented at schools in rural, suburban, and urban settings, and at parks and nature centers in Litchfield, Fairfield and Westchester Counties – including Bedford Central Schools. I worked with the New York City Parks Department at parks and recreation centers in the Bronx, and at environmental education centers and museums in Connecticut. I have also worked extensively with kids in special education settings. These workshops weave together meteorology, geology, astronomy, geography and natural history, with key math concepts in the New York and Connecticut state standards, all with real-world connections.
Since January 2014 I have been teaching middle school students at Rogers Park in Danbury, as a special ed teacher, interpreting content areas, including re-teaching math, science and social studies lessons so that special needs students who are below grade level can attend mainstream classes and become higher achievers while joining their peers. I have several excellent references at the school.
Included is a weather workshops outline. I look forward to working with you.
INTERPRETIVE WEATHER WORKSHOP AT RMT JOHNSON SCHOOL IN BETHEL, CONNECTICUT
Grades 4 and 5
Presented by Mark Hanok, meteorologist on WRCR in Rockland County, NY
1. To increase scientific literacy through integrating the essential elements of meteorology with the sciences, mathematics, geography, natural history, and language arts, in a way that is immediately relevant to upper elementary school students.
2. To meet Connecticut learning standards through an interactive approach to Earth science and math.
3. To build an understanding of and appreciation for our planet and its atmosphere, through real world connections and guided discovery.
1. Introduction to weather: Uneven heating of the Earth’s surface caused by differences in the angle of the sun and the intensity of incoming solar radiation from the equator to the north and south poles, causes weather. Clouds provide important clues about the weather; we can forecast the local weather by looking at the sky and observing the wind direction.
2. Building barometers: Students work in small groups and build barometers, using plastic cups, balloons, and straws. High pressure will cause the air outside the cup to be heavier than the air inside the cup, so the balloon will cave in and the straw will go up. Low pressure will cause the balloon to expand since the air outside the cup can will be lighter than the air inside, and the straw will point downward. If it’s cooler in the room the next day, the air surrounding the cup will be heavier than the air inside the cup, and the straw will go up. These barometers can be easily used to show that as the temperature rises the barometric pressure falls, and as the temperature falls the barometric pressure rises. The barometers also demonstrate how cold air is heavier than warm air. If it’s much cooler outside the classroom, the balloon will be pressed in so quickly by the cold, dense air that we can actually watch the straw go up.
3. Interpretive look at the landscape: The theme is interrelationships as students explore the amazingly diverse western Connecticut landscape. We’ll hike one to two miles depending on the weather and trail conditions, exploring contrasting eco-systems in the local area and discover where individual micro-climates are found – and look at the role of glacial rock outcroppings as relics of the last Great Ice Age. We’ll explore a very diverse landscapes around the Bethel campus and compare distinct micro-climates, including temperature differences between the north and south sides of a pond or an open field. Trees are indicators of different micro-climates and habitats, and we’ll discover different varieties of trees.
4. Large-scale weather systems: A look at how high and low pressure systems, the jet stream, cold and warm fronts, the Atlantic Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico, the Great Lakes, and the Catskill Mountains affect weather patterns in northern Fairfield County. We’ll compare elevations and distances.
5. Building weathervanes: Students work in small groups and construct weathervanes using a variety of simple materials. Blacks of wood 3″ square, are given to each student and the different directions are written on the block of wood: N, NE, E, SE, S, SW, W, NW. Wooden dowels are placed in the hole in the center of each block. Next, students cut the weathervane arrows out of cardboard and staple to a straw; the straw is then placed over the dowel in the center of the block. Each student can draw pictures on the arrows.
6. Using weathervanes to determine wind direction: First we find north. The sun rises in the east and sets in the west; the sun moves from east to south to west. In the middle of the day the sun is in the southern sky. Look in the opposite direction to find north. Facing north, east is to the right and west is to the left. One group of students can go to the north side of an open field while the other group goes to the south end of the field. Students can hold the weathervanes in the wind, and find the wind direction. In this way, we discover important differences in wind velocity and temperature from one side of the field to the other side of the field. We will keep track of wind data using bar graphs and circle graphs.
7. Conclusion: Students look at the relationship between barometric pressure, wind direction, and clouds, and learn how to predict the weather using this data, and integrate probability concepts. Students share information and ideas, and they discuss the links between topography and micro-climates. We’ll discover key facts about the very diverse Bethel landscape.